Border Interfaith, a sister organization of the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization, has recently led meetings with the Sheriff’s Office in Westway and Canutillo to build relationships with law enforcement.
Border Interfaith is a broad-based community organization that encourages democratic practices and meaningful community action through education and interfaith relationships. The organization is made up of about 15 different institutions including churches, schools and organizations.
“We’ve had lots of meetings and conversations to hear issues and now we are ready to begin to act,” said Arturo Aguila, lead organizer for EPISO and Border Interfaith.
More than 75 residents recently attended the first Border Interfaith house meeting with Sheriff Richard Wiles at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Westway.
Aguila said people in the two communities had been bringing up concerns about law enforcement in their area since the beginning of the year.
“We have people come together and talk about issues affecting their families, develop relationships and then decide what are issues that they have the power to act on and bring out policy change they want to see,” he said.
“Over 80 people attended these meetings. People were sharing their struggles … but then deputies and lieutenants had a chance to speak. People were able to see them as human beings and that they were afraid at times when they would come to some neighborhoods. It really changed the whole dialogue.”
Aguila believes that the model of public meetings with law enforcement might be a good idea for the city of El Paso, especially in light of recent incidents.